This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange
The following story is true. It happened to me and I still can’t get over it. It started several years ago when my doctor recommended an over-the-counter medication for controlling allergies. If you live in Galveston County, you are highly likely to suffer from seasonal pollen-driven allergy attacks.
The product the doctor recommended was Claritin-D. I bought some and was really happy with how well it worked. I reported back to him how much it helped. I was using the 12-hour version,
so I only needed one per day.
Then, a good while later,
I went into my local pharmacy to buy another box of this wonder drug. Suddenly, I had to produce my photo ID and it was entered into the cash register. Back came an “OK” that I was eligible to buy
I was stunned and asked the checker why buyers of this simple allergy medication were being ID’d like criminals just because they had allergies. Initially, I was told that the pills contained mostly pseudoephedrine sulfate and that the government now required the product’s surveillance. I signed my name as the purchaser, grabbed my pills before they could change their minds and left the store.
The more I thought about it, the stranger it seemed. So the next time I bought Claritin-D, I decided to purchase it at the grocery store. Again, I had to show my photo ID and sign off for it. This time my “Why???” demand was probably a bit louder than normal, but going through all this government procedure was getting on my nerves.
The answer? Here’s what the store’s pharmacy department told me, as well as what
I found on the internet.
“The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic act of 2005 has been incorporated into the Patriot act signed by president George W Bush on March 9, 2006. The act bans over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to make methamphetamine.
“The sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine
is limited to behind the counter. The amount of pseudoephedrine that an individual can purchase each month is limited and individuals are required to present photo identification to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine.
“In addition, stores are required to keep personal information about purchasers for at least two years.”
That’s right. Buying any OTC drug containing pseudoephedrine makes you highly suspect because it’s “commonly used to make methamphetamine”. Welcome to the wonderful world of illegal drug making!
I was completely taken aback. Me, a former PTA member and room mother, buying allergy pills so I could manufacture meth?!
I recall that I’d been standing in a very long line waiting to make this purchase. In a very huffy voice I informed the server that, “if I was smart enough to be making meth out of allergy drugs, I’d have money enough to pay someone else to stand
in line for me!”
I kind of remember adding that I had better things to do than blow up my house making meth. That’s me – always tactful.
On my next visit to the doctor, I asked if he knew that he’d sent me out to buy medication that could be used to make meth. He was totally surprised when I told him my experiences.
This is not a protest against our national government. Somebody has to keep an eye on things. But it seems a bit like treating good folks like criminals.
Real drug makers probably know all kinds of ways to get their hands on medicines containing pseudoephedrine. And I bet they don’t have to stand in line to do so.
But at least my allergies are much easier to survive now.